Zócalo Group unveils brand advocacy platform

NEW YORK: Zócalo Group, Ketchum's digital and social unit, has launched a brand advocacy platform with the goal of connecting socially engaged consumers with brands.

NEW YORK: Zócalo Group, Ketchum's digital and social unit, has launched a brand advocacy platform with the goal of connecting socially engaged consumers with brands.

The FanRally service, which was in development for 18 months, focuses on the concept of “first-generation brand-advocacy programs,” which gather groups of consumers and offer them giveaways, said Paul Rand, Zócalo Group president and CEO.

Rather than “borrowing” fans, who eventually move to another advocacy platform, FanRally targets consumers who actively engage a company on social media, he explained.

“What brands really are looking for is building out their own communities that they can run, manage, and get all of the benefits, and find people who aren't doing it just because they want the freebies but because they genuinely are passionate about the brand,” Rand added.

A team of 10 staffers is working on the platform, led by Jordan Ho, digital strategist. It can be used to target consumers, as well as for b-to-b and employee engagement.

FanRally is designed to understand and identify consumers by screening data such as demographics, behavior, and social media activity. If a brand wants to only engage fans in a particular region, the program can narrow down individuals by ZIP code.

The platform is only available in the US, but Rand said the firm expects to launch it in the UK soon, as well as Brazil and Germany.

Consumers must be invited and accepted to participate in a FanRally program and to receive inside information, sneak previews, and special offers.

In addition to targeting brand-loyal consumers, FanRally is focused on “empowering” fans, which is why it is important to get input and recommendations from brand advocates, said Rand.

He added that the program has built-in game mechanics to incentivize consumers to share, review, and engage brand content by giving them points for activities such as viewing a video or writing a post. After completing various activities, fans receive brand-specific merchandise or gift cards.

The brand never tells the consumer what to write, Rand explains, but encourages them to perform tasks. A FanRally profile can exist as its own website or a tab on a Facebook page.

Zocalo has beta-tested FanRally, which can be used for both established and startup brands, with several clients, including a wireless carrier and two food brands. Rand declined to name the companies that have been using the service.

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